Since Dana-Farber’s founding, serving and supporting its mission has been a family affair for the Smiths. The late Richard A. “Dick” Smith, his late wife Susan, and their family have had a generations-long relationship with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a transformational impact.
While running businesses with holdings in movie theaters, book publishing, high-end retail, and other arenas, Dick Smith also served on Dana-Farber’s board from 1962 until his death in 2020. He was President of the Institute from 1973 to 1978 and its Chairman from 1979 to 1981.
Dick’s late father, Philip, had also been a board member. Sue, his wife, who died in 2016, was also a longtime Trustee, and his daughter, Amy Smith Berylson, is now on the Dana-Farber board.
Dick and Sue were the Institute’s most dedicated supporters, providing the needed advice, leadership, and philanthropic support that shaped Dana-Farber’s current status as New England’s foremost cancer center, and a global force for research and patient care. While the couple supported many worthy charities, Dana-Farber was perhaps the one that they supported the longest and most generously with their time and resources.
“If he thought something was worth doing, but finances were standing in the way—that he could solve,” said David Nathan, MD, president emeritus of the Institute, at the time of Dick Smith’s passing in 2020 at the age of 95. “He’d tell me, ‘Writing a check is easy. Figuring out what the money should be for, that is the hard part.’”
In 2006, Sue and Dick directed transformational philanthropy to help fund construction of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, which opened in 2011, was named in Sue’s honor in recognition of her volunteer leadership. They also established the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Research Laboratories and named a professorship at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber. The Smiths supported many other projects, such as the Susan F. Smith Center Living Biobank, and funded several awards to recognize excellence in biomedical research.
In 2018, when Dick Smith provided early support at the outset of The Dana-Farber Campaign, it was a testament to the Institute’s new strategic plan, strongly demonstrating the family’s confidence once again in leadership’s ability to guide and lead the Institute in pursuit of its ambitious goals.
“Over more than 50 years, I have seen amazing strides in cancer treatment brought about by the brilliant Dana-Farber researchers and clinicians,” Dick Smith said at the time. “And I am very pleased to support Laurie Glimcher’s vision for taking this lifesaving work to the next level.”